A.I. Pattern Alignment/Reg. Marking Tricks?

Fun troubleshooting question - we’ve got a bunch of big signs to install for a hospital that have drilled holes for wall mounting. For the sign production we had files with circles on the AI files for the material to be cut out, and for sign installation I’ve been asked to make a template where those circles are registration marks with little crosshairs inside to help with drilling the holes in the walls.

I thought I’d be able to apply a fill or appearance effect to the existing circles - set one up with crosshairs inside the right way and I could just copy the appearance to the others - but nothing I’m trying is working quite right. My best results so far have been making a pattern of the crosshairs and setting that as a fill, but if there’s an option to get the pattern centered on the object instead of a point on the board, I’m not having any luck finding or using it.

Does anyone know a good way to get this kind of effect consistently with an appearance or fill effect that can be easily applied? Manually aligning them all again is certainly doable, but it’ll be a tedious pain in the neck, and it really seems like there should be a simpler solution.

In case I didn’t describe what I’m trying to do, I’ve got a simple image of what I’m trying to do that hopefully makes more sense of it.
registration conversion-02

I don’t know of any current tricks in Illustrator that let you do that simply. Maybe Craig has an appearance trick that’ll work? When this happens here where I work, we tediously hand set them.

Of course the answer is to create them at the beginning when you set your holes. It’s automatic as soon as someone says ‘stud mounted.’ Just make the crosshairs some gawdawful spot color that you can select by stroke color later to remove. Illustrator still destroys layers on grouping. Just saying.

Another trick is to copy over patterns from same-letters, so any of them will fit the template without having to resort to numbering them in order.

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Yeah, I’m kicking myself in hindsight. While I was googling I found you can swap symbols around, but the objects have to be placed as symbols to start - you can’t replace an object for a symbol. It’s a lesson for the future - hopefully the hundreds of “paste, align, repeat” will cement it enough that I don’t forget it.

I don’t know of a way to do it with the appearance palette. But you could do it with the symbols palette. But you would still have to replace your current circles with the symbol. Which at that point would be just as easy as duplicating what you currently have.

It may exist but I don’t know of a way to automatically center a pattern to an object. You can manually do it, but the problem is if you set that as a graphic style, it only is centered to the original object.

This script supposedly replaces selected objects with symbols, which may work.

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I just thought of a non precise workaround that you can do using the appearance palette and then save it as a graphic style and apply to other circles.

First make a circle with white stroke and black fill.

then using the appearance palette add a transform effect.

Notice mark it as one copy and do a horizontal scale of 1%. Then in the appearance palette, drag the transform effect to the “top” effect. Duplicate it and set vertical scale to 1%.

Screen Shot 2022-01-03 at 5.42.19 PM

voila. Not 100% precise, but should work for what you are doing.


I swear you’re a friggen genius, that’s exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of!

I’m glad I could help. And I wish I’m not sure about the genius part. Ha. I’m just stubborn and I knew there had to be a way to make it work.

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